Andrew Bogut and the Bucks were the buzz of the league last week, and that was before they beat the Utah Jazz with gut check defensive stands and clutch shooting. The Bucks center even won over the round mound of TNT, Charles Barkley.
Monday the NBA named Bogut Eastern Conference Player of the Week, March 8-14, over Lebron James, rival center Dwight Howard and Bobcats guard Stephen Jackson.
Bogues led the league in blocked shots for the week (3.7 per game), was second in rebounds (13.7) and scored 19.3 ppg. AB began the week with a monster game in the Bucks win over the Celtics (26 pts, 17 boards and 4 blocks) and continued his strong play in wins over the Jazz and Pacers.
Heck, he didn’t play that well offensively in the latter two wins, though he anchored the tough defensive stands that turned back the Jazz, on a 23-5 tear before losing to the Bucks and Thunder last weekend. Suffice it to say Bogues has had better weeks during the 2009-10 campaign; it’s been his coming out party as a force in the league to be reckoned with, an All-Pro center.
Nice that the NBA is noticing, in light of the All-Star snub AB received from the East coaches and Commish David Stern just a few weeks ago. A belated thanks NBA, and we’ll take that 5th seed in the playoffs, too. As for Bogut?
“Thanks [for the fan support] for the player of the week award I was fortunate enough to receive,” he tweeted. “Still a lot of work 2-do.”
The daily newspaper in Milwaukee has even noticed Bogut’s breakout season. Journal Sentinel sports editor Garry D. Howard left that “Jerry Stackhouse was the spark” thing behind and wrote a laudatory piece on Bogut and Skiles.
The CHARLIE BELL FACTOR: It’s real, trust it, know it, never mind the Hollinger ratings (rarely kind to defensive commandos). Bell has been on the bench as Skiles instead plays Stackhouse, leading to talk that Stack sparked the Bucks’ turnaround. Nevermind that Charlie was the shooting guard Skiles relied on most when the Bucks turned things around after their long and losing trip West.
Charlie’s still an X factor determining the Bucks success, as he played heavy minutes in the 12 games between the last game on the 1-5 western trip (at Houston) and the disjointed loss to Houston on the eve of trading deadline (the last game the Bucks played without John Salmons). In the 12 games in between the Houston losses, the Bucks were 8-4, with Charlie averaging 31 minutes per game.
Yet there are many in the Bucks fan base convinced that Charlie doesn’t make a positive impact on their team’s performance. Let’s go to Charlie Bell’s game logs (what would I do without you basketball-reference?) for a closer look.
CB’s avg. line in those 12 games: 31 mins, 40% shooting but 42% (20-47) on threes, 13-18 from the line, 2.5 rebs, 1.8 assists, 10.2 ppg.
That three point shooting % is not a typo — Charlie was shooting 42% from the land of Ray and Reggie during the turnaround stretch that preceded Salmons’ arrival. This includes lousy bad night — a 1-6 outing and a loss in Toronto. Minus that game, and Charlie was draining nearly half his shots from Downtown (46.3%) for three weeks. It was a shot in the arm the Bucks needed.
Here’s more: 7 steals, and only 8 turnovers in 371 minutes. That’s baallll control, an extremely stabilizing court presence for Brandon Jennings, who has to be allowed to make mistakes (and does) running the point in his rookie season. Michael Redd was finished for the season, the Bucks were working Stackhouse into the lineup — somebody had to help Bogut and Jennings restore order.
And for all the defensive muggings that Charlie lays on opponents, Charlie gets off scot free — only 23 fouls total, or 2 per game.
Some highlights: Bell had 18 in a win against Philly Jan. 27, part of a 5-game stretch in which Charlie averaged 13 ppg.
Bottled up Dwyane Wade, not once but twice in three days. On Jan. 30 Bell hounded Wade into a 7-19 shooting (23 pts) night, “one of his most frustrating games of the season,” according to the Miami Herald. Jennings called Bell “a D-Wade stopper.” In public.
In the rematch two nights later Feb.1 the Bucks held Wade to 20 pts on 6-20 shooting, as Bell and Luc Mbah a Moute alternated on Wade. “The Bucks might have ‘a D-Wade stopper’ in Charlie Bell,’ as rookie Brandon Jennings said. Or they might not,” went the Herald game report. “But what is certain is that the Bucks have become Heat stoppers.”
First game off the road: At the BC against the Raptors, the Bucks played their starters heavily — Jennings, Bell, Bogut, Delfino and Mbah a Moute — and fed Bogut in a 113-107 win. The starters accounted for 86 of the final tally, Bogut leading the way with 27. Bell shot 6-9 for 13 pts, dished out 3 assists and didn’t turn the ball over in 36 minutes. It was a statement game to the home fans that things were coming together for the Bucks, that they could win and this was how they were going to do it.
In those first dozen games coming off the western trip, Stackhouse was new, working to fit in. The hope that Redd would be able to fit in was recently lost, Salmons wasn’t here yet. Jennings was mired in a shooting slump. Somebody had to step up and help execute the game plans, maintain Skiles’ constant pressure D on the perimeter. Bogut stepped into his All-Pro stride, all-Rambis defensive whiz Luc Mbah a Moute moved into the starting lineup, Carlos Delfino began shooting better…
… and there was Charlie Bell, the X-factor, hitting 42% from 3-point land, the former point guard taking care of the ball, making plays and supplying in-your-face defense. The Charlie Bell Factor — the Bucks can depend on it.
Quote of the Day: “This team is bad. This team needs a few pieces, and to build a new identity. Right now there’s nothing. They’re one of the worst offensive teams, one of the worst teams defensively, they’re a shell of their former selves.” — Need4Sheed blog guest writer Boney on the Pistons.
And to think the Bucks split with that shell of the Pistons.